It is often joked that parenthood is not for the weak. And while many may laugh upon hearing that, there is an enormous amount of truth to that statement. Being a parent comes with massive responsibility, but also many successes. Sometimes, though, parents find themselves in a situation where their child has gone down the wrong path and is struggling with addiction.
Watching anyone you love go through active addiction can rip your heart out. It can make you equally as resentful as it does sad. But when the person with the addiction is your own flesh and blood, the pain, anger, frustration, panic, and disbelief can become immeasurable.
In the United States alone, more than 15 million people are addicted to alcohol. Those 15 million people represent 15 million+ families who are watching on as they grapple with this disease. If your child is an alcoholic, you know the hurt that comes along with this disease. And while there are many aspects of alcoholism ranging from trying to get your child treatment to figuring out how to help them when they are under the influence, one of the most important things to focus on are your own personal coping skills. Coping skills can make or break you during this tumultuous time, which is why it is imperative to figure out healthy ways of coping with an alcoholic child.
Coping With an Alcoholic Child
You cannot force your child into recovery no matter how much you may want to. Recovering from alcoholism takes internal drive that comes directly from the person in recovery. So while you can try to get your child the help they need, they will be the ones who need to put in the work to become and remain sober. You do not need to sit around and wait for your child to get moving on the road to recovery, though. There are ways that you can cope with your alcoholic child and the negative consequences that come with their addicted behaviors.
Get support — for you!
It can seem crazy and backwards to seek out help when you are not the one struggling with alcoholism, but it is vital. Addiction is a family disease, meaning that if you do not keep your side of the street clean, you can get swept up into the chaos of alcoholism. So, work on developing a strong foundation to stand on. You can do this by attending local support group meetings, such as those offered through Al-Anon. Spend time sharing your feelings and experiences with others in the group and ensure that you are actively listening to others share, too. Not only can you learn a great deal about coping with an alcoholic child, but you can also start to develop a support system of others who truly understand.
Encourage family counseling
Family counseling can bring together members of families who are being impacted by alcoholism and other types of addictions. Of course, it is ideal if your alcoholic child attends family counseling sessions with you and the rest of your immediate family, but even if they don’t, attending these sessions is critical. Through family counseling, you and your family can learn how to recognize toxic behaviors (such as enabling and lying) and developing ways to steer clear of them. You can build a stronger level of communication among one another, strengthen the bond of the family during a time when many families fall apart. When you are all on the same page, you can set strict boundaries, form a cohesive response to your child’s alcoholism, and move forward in as healthy of a manner as possible.
As just mentioned, one of the most important things you can do when coping with an alcoholic child is to set boundaries. Take some time to think about what your own personal boundaries are. Review what the collective boundaries of other family members might be and begin working on setting them. An example of a common boundary set by parents of alcoholic children is not allowing them to be at their house when they are drunk. In some cases, parents take it a step further and tell their alcoholic child that they are not allowed at their house unless they are fully sober. Boundaries are not always meant to be comfortable, rather they are meant to help preserve the wellbeing of you and your family. So, consider what boundaries are appropriate for you and enforce them. Be sure to uphold your boundaries, or else your child will quickly learn that they can keep crossing them.
Have a plan for treatment
Spend time researching into different treatment programs both local and out-of-state. Find out what types of services they offer, if they accept insurance, and how many beds they typically have open at a time. Do not be shy about picking up the phone and speaking to an admissions specialist at a treatment center you want to know more about. They are there specifically to answer all of your questions. Start developing an action plan so that if your alcoholic child asks for help, all you need to do is make the call. When your child asks for help is not the time to start this process — be proactive in your support by knowing what steps to follow if and when you are called on.
Practice good self-care
If you are a parent, your instinct is to put your child and their needs before yours. But, in a situation like this where your child is wrapped up in a toxic disease, it is vital that you practice good self-care. This means ensuring you are fulfilling your needs and wants while also doing things that are soothing for the soul. Common ways to practice self-care include yoga, picking up a hobby, exercising well, cooking healthy food, seeing a therapist regularly, and so on. Whatever it is that is going to help you feel cared for is what you should strive to do during this time.
Do You Need Help?
Do not hesitate to call us if your child needs help. We understand how upsetting it is to see your child struggle this way. Call us right now so we can begin helping you and your child today.